Ireland can feel a bit restricted when it comes to sourcing homewares and accessories. There are definitely more options than there were five years ago but the choice is still fairly limited. There is, however, a wealth of online resources where you can get your hands on beautiful and unusual pieces and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. You just need to know where to look.
The launch of idea-sharing websites such as houzz.com and pinterest.com have opened up a world of inspiration and sourcing. Houzz and Pinterest continue to grow and have become highly valued resources for the home design industry. Houzz launched an Irish version of the site last year and already there are 200,000 unique monthly visitors. It has become so popular that designers and suppliers are making it their business to have a strong presence on the site.
The site provides handy tools to focus your search down to the smallest details. For example, you can search for a contemporary kitchen with stainless appliances, stone countertops, chrome fixtures or any other combination of ideas to narrow down the results. You can also search by area so you know you are looking at work by local designers and suppliers.
What’s really useful is that it also allows users to communicate with the designer or supplier who uploaded the image. You can ask questions about specific products or finishes. For example, I often get asked about paint colours or where furniture or lighting items came from in the photos of our work. I always do my very best to answer and if I don’t know where the exact piece came from I will try to suggest a similar alternative. So you’re getting access to interior designers’ little black books.
Pinterest is also going from strength to strength, with 50 million active users in the US alone. It differs from Houzz in that it is purely an image-collating site where the images on designers’ boards are not necessarily their own work. But they usually link back to the designer or store where they originated so you can try to trace things that way. This route involves a little more work but is a great way to collect ideas for your home and amass a list of suppliers.
Because the site is global often great “finds” are sourced from companies that may not ship to Ireland, but there are ways to get around this. Mail forwarding companies such as Parcel Motel and Address Pal allow you to order from the UK and www.myus.com or www.shipito.com will give you a US address to order with and then arrange shipping to Ireland.
Then of course there are great online stores that do ship to Ireland that are worth exploring. If you are looking for designer-style pieces at affordable prices visit www.cultfurniture.co.uk. They stock contemporary pieces – from large furniture such as sofas and dining tables to chairs, lighting and accessories. Notonthehighstreet.co.uk is another fantastic resource that stocks everything from accessories to furniture items and artworks. They have a filter system to let you see which sellers ship to Ireland. Made. com is another fantastic site, selling everything from beds to lights and their lead times are pretty good, meaning that you don't have to wait too long for delivery.
Finally, another tool worth cultivating is Instagram. This is big news in social media now so designers and suppliers are starting to build a strong presence on the site and post current snaps of their work. As a result it's a great way to see real-time trends and most of the posts will reference where specific items were sourced.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant. @OptimiseDesign